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Introduction

Achieving greater local economic growth is critical to the future of the Borough and opportunities exist, working through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership to meet agreed priorities around economic development, employment and skills, transport and development planning.

To support this aim St. Helens is developing a new Economic Growth Strategy to align economic activity and growth within the Borough and producing a new Local Plan for St. Helens that will set out the planning priorities for the next 15 years, allocating sites for housing, employment and retail development and green space land. Key work undertaken to date to inform the area of Economy and Growth includes the Employment Land Needs Study and the Mid Mersey Strategic Housing Market Assessment. Both studies were undertaken in parallel and have regard to each other. Equally both studies are the starting point for further needs assessment within St. Helens, which will be complimented and linked in with further work at the Liverpool City Region level. Strategic assessment of these key issues is currently ongoing and will be published on this page in due course.  

St.Helens Council engaged Mickledore, an economic development specialist to consider the appropriate future shape of economic development and regeneration in St. Helens. The study, Options for Economic Development Approach, included a strategic assessment, which considered the economic baseline and performance of the borough and set out a summary of the key issues and priority areas for St Helens. It also examined the different approaches, which could be taken in delivering economic development and regeneration with an analysis of each and concluded with a recommended approach.

St. Helens Employment Land Needs Survey - Background

St. Helens Employment Land Needs Study was published in October 2015. It analyses and assesses the demand for employment land in St. Helens to 2037 and will inform both St. Helens Local Plan and the new Economic Growth Strategy.  

The assessment takes account of the Liverpool City Region economic outlook, as well as the local economic context. Future forecasts for the Liverpool City Region economy were provided by Oxford Economics and as of September 2016 are still subject to ongoing refinement. The local economic context focuses on national datasets that provide a summary of the prevailing social and economic conditions in St. Helens. Data sets employed such as population, economic activity, qualifications, occupational groups, and business counts are all available on info4St.Helens under the Data and Resources pages. Registered users have access to all data sets.

The study also took account of a property market assessment to understand the factors driving supply and demand and took account of feedback following consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including existing businesses, local developers and public sector agencies.  

St. Helens Employment Land Needs Study - Summary of findings

The following bullet points briefly summarise the main key findings of St.Helens Employment Land Needs Survey 2015. Please see the full study for further detail:  

  • The population of St. Helens is growing modestly and mid-level skill positions dominate the workforce profile, particularly skilled trades and business support positions.
  • The largest current employment sectors are health, retail, manufacturing, business administration, and transport and postage.
  • St. Helens has a lower number of businesses per resident than neighbouring areas and opportunities exist for St. Helens to grow its workplaces to improve the commuting in-balance and improve opportunities for local residents.
  • Objectively assessed employment land need through to 2037 is between 177-214 ha.
  • Employment land needs will be a mix of office, general industrial and storage and distribution.
  • There is likely to be a strong shift in future land take-up towards warehousing usage by large logistics operations.
  • The location of additional employment land should build upon the existing employment nodes in the Borough and exploit St. Helens advantage as a key location due to its excellent road network connectivity.

 

Mid Mersey Strategic Housing Market Assessment - Background

The most recent Mid Mersey Strategic Housing Assessment was published in January 2016 and covers the local authority areas of St. Helens, Halton and Warrington. It covers the period 2014 to 2037 and its purpose is to define the Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for housing as determined by national planning policy, as well as considering the need for different types of housing and the housing needs of different groups within the community, such as the elderly.

It is important to recognise the Strategic Housing Market Assessment only assesses the need for housing; it does not set housing targets.

The assessment’s evidence base takes account of characteristics of the local housing market, along with detailed demographic and economic profiles and projections. The majority of these data sets are available on info4St.Helens under the Data and Resources pages under the population, housing and economy and employment themes.

Mid Mersey Strategic Housing Market Assessment - Summary of findings

The following bullet points briefly summarise some of the key findings of the Mid Mersey Strategic Housing Market Assessment as they apply to St. Helens. Please see the full study for further detail:

  • A purely demographic based assessment of projected housing need in St. Helens over the period 2014 to 2037 of 369 homes per annum, but the figure does not take account of affordable housing need, market forces and the needs of the local economy.
  • Projected housing need including that required to support forecast growth in employment provides a figure of 445 homes per annum over the period 20-14 to 2037.
  • Analysis indicates that an additional 96 households per year will require support in meeting their housing needs, providing some evidence of the need to increase the supply of affordable housing.
  • Market forces are projected to uplift the projected housing need by an additional 1.5% per annum. Therefore taking account of economic growth and improved affordability projected housing need equates to 451 homes per annum over the period 20-14 to 2037.
  • The structure of the housing mix is expected to change over the period 2014 to 2037 and by 2037 the relative need for different types of homes across the Mid Mersey Strategic Housing Area is as follows.

 

Mid Mersey Strategic Housing Market Assessment

  • A significant increase in the 75+ population is forecast over the period 2014 to 2037. Some older households will require specialist housing solutions, such as sheltered or extra care homes. The need for specialist housing for older people in St. Helens by 2037 is shown in the table below. 

 

Mid Mersey Strategic Housing Market Assessment - Housing need

Options for Economic Development Approach

Mickledore, an economic development specialist, were commissioned to consider the appropriate future shape of economic development and regeneration in St Helens. The objective being to establish a shape for the function, which ensures that economic regeneration schemes are delivered effectively and that new investors are attracted to the borough. The strategic assessment identified a number of key issues for St. Helens:

  • There has been a reliance on large employers. Levels of entrepreneurism in the Borough are low, with business start-up figures below the national average.
  • Size of the economy is small compared to the size of the population
  • Widespread out-commuting to areas where wage levels are higher
  • Significant areas of deprivation
  • The economy is likely to be affected by a reduced working age population. It is projected that by 2039, there will be 5,000 fewer people of working age (16-64 years) in St. Helens. This reduces the productive capacity of the area and consequently a lower level of income to be spent within the local economy.
  • The predicted growth sectors are emergent rather than traditional, therefore potential investors need to see St. Helens as an attractive investment prospect. The sector strengths of the area, its location and trends in the UK economy suggest the area could benefit from further investment in transport, logistics and other order fulfillment activities.

 

The report, Options for Economic Development Approach, examined different approaches which could be taken to promote economic growth, with an analysis of each prior to setting out the recommended approach and suggested action.

Further data and resources

St. Helens Local Plan Preferred Options December 2016 Sustainability Appraisal - Summary

Further information around the data contained within the above two asessments can be found in the Data and Resources section of info4St.Helens.

The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership website also includes a section on inelligence and evidence - LEP Website

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